The most recommended books about civil war

Who picked these books? Meet our 18 experts.

18 authors created a book list connected to civil war, and here are their favorite civil war books.
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What type of civil war book?


The Traitor Baru Cormorant

By Seth Dickinson,

Book cover of The Traitor Baru Cormorant

Gregory J. Glanz Author Of In Human Shadow

From the list on anti-heroes of fantasy fiction.

Who am I?

It seems that all of the fictional main characters I create have anti-hero tendencies. There is always some voice in their head telling them to do right when they are expected to do wrong, or to do wrong when it is supposed they will do right. I find this flaw very compelling, and universal for those of us of flesh and blood. Do sneering, evil characters exist? Well, maybe, but they aren’t very interesting, and I think a weak trope.

Gregory's book list on anti-heroes of fantasy fiction

Why did Gregory love this book?

In the first novel of Dickinson’s The Masquerade series, Baru Cormorant’s life undergoes a sudden and brutal change as her island nation is subjugated by the Empire of Masks.

Thrust into a world that shuns her local customs, even unto death, Baru begins an arduous and brutal climb through the empire’s ranks via cunning and education. Now an outsider on the inside, her goal is the eventual restoration of her homeland… and nobody is immune to her single-minded ambitions.

This book is delicious as Baru uses the empire’s own rules to beguile, subjugate, and destroy the people above her as she intellectually seduces her way to ascension.

By Seth Dickinson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Traitor Baru Cormorant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

[Published as The Traitor Baru Cormorant in the US]

Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people - even her soul.

When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her Fathers, Baru vows to hide her hate, join the Empire's civil service, and claw her way up enough rungs of power to put a stop to the Emperor's influence and set her people free.

As a natural savant, she is sent as an imperial agent to distant Aurdwynn - a post she worries will never get her the…

By Love Divided

By Elizabeth St. John,

Book cover of By Love Divided

Anna Belfrage Author Of In the Shadow of the Storm

From the list on gritty historical fiction with a pinch of love.

Who am I?

Give me a castle ruin or guide me through ancient Roman mosaics and you make my day. Accordingly, my preferred reading is historical fiction. I read (and review) lots of it, like 100 books/year. I am also ridiculously romantic. I want there to be some heart with the blood and war, I want characters I can root for despite the horrifying odds facing them. I want protagonists that step out of the past to drag me back with them. When I read, these are the books I choose. When I write, these are the books I aspire to create—Romantic Historical Fiction, if you will.

Anna's book list on gritty historical fiction with a pinch of love

Why did Anna love this book?

I have a passion for the 17th century and this novel based on actual diaries and letters from IRL people living through the realities of the English Civil War is a favourite. Ms. St. John writes about her own ancestors, and she imbues her characters with so much life, so many contrary opinions. These are difficult times, and especially for mother Lucy St. John whose son is a through-and-through royalist while daughter Luce is head-over-heels in love with Parliamentarian John Hutchinson. Luce is utterly fascinating: intelligent and with a passion to truly reform, she never loses her humanity or her ability for compassion. This novel is a real treat for anyone desiring well-researched historical fiction – with the added benefit of having a spoonful or two of love to complicate things! 

By Elizabeth St. John,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked By Love Divided as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

”A fantastic read." Editor’s Choice, Historical Novel Society

London, 1630. Widowed and destitute, Lucy St.John is fighting for survival and makes a terrible choice to secure a future for her children. Worse still, her daughter Luce rejects the royal court and a wealthy arranged marriage, and falls in love with a charismatic soldier. As England tumbles toward bloody civil war, Luce’s beloved brother Allen chooses to fight for the king as a cavalier. Allen and Luce are swept up in the chaos of war as they defend their opposing causes and protect those they love.

Will war unite or divide…

The Mirror Empire

By Kameron Hurley,

Book cover of The Mirror Empire

M.G. Herron Author Of The Auriga Project

From the list on fantasy with unusual portals to other worlds.

Who am I?

Is there any genre so purely escapist as a portal fantasy adventure? I grew up on stories like these, devouring any book I could find that had a portal in it, from Alice in Wonderland to The Chronicles of Narnia to Tunnel in the Sky. Books, in a way, are portals to other places and times, and as a child I wandered through the stacks of the local library, plumbing the depths of every strange world I could get my hands on. If you want to experience the long-lost thrill of falling into a story, few do it like those that take their characters through portals to other worlds.

M.G.'s book list on fantasy with unusual portals to other worlds

Why did M.G. love this book?

The other novels I’ve listed here are optimistic, hopeful stories.

This one takes us on a dark and bloody path.

In The Mirror Empire, two nearly identical worlds populated by violent people and sentient (also violent!) plants are at war with each other.

The only doorway between them is powered by blood.

The limitations of this concept are fascinating. Since the worlds are duplicates of each other, each person who lives in one world has a copy of themselves living in the other.

The twist? A person can only cross to the other side if their imposter is dead.

Talk about consequences!

This novel is incredibly bloody and full of betrayal. It’s violent, but the intense action had my eyes pinned open late into the night. 

The Mirror Empire is often gory and frequently shocking, but two things are for sure: You won’t be able to predict what’s…

By Kameron Hurley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mirror Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the award-winning author of God's War comes a stunning new series...

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past... while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his…

A Clash of Kings

By George R. R. Martin,

Book cover of A Clash of Kings

Mikayla Deely Author Of The Rise of Surge: Of Fire and Fate

From the list on ferocious and fantastic dragons.

Who am I?

I’ve read books about dragons ever since I can remember. If I couldn’t read it, my dad read it to me. Outside of books, I’d seek out movies or shows with the magical beasts in them. I was a bit obsessed, really. From cruel-hearted and devious to kind-natured and intelligent, I was writing and reading about it all. My favorite, however, is dragons that are as smart as they are deadly. This reflects a lot in the books I chose, as they all contain some pretty ferocious dragons!

Mikayla's book list on ferocious and fantastic dragons

Why did Mikayla love this book?

I’ll be honest, I first found the books after watching the TV series Game of Thrones, but the books had so much more to offer I couldn’t help but fall in love with them. In A Clash of Kings, we get to see Daenerys and her three dragons as they struggle through a wasteland. Daenerys is determined to return to the land of her birth and claim her rightful place on the throne, and her dragons are an essential part of her story and her growth. Martin left a huge impact on me as a writer, and the three dragons from this book helped inspire me to write the powerful beasts in my own work.

By George R. R. Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Clash of Kings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


In this thrilling sequel to A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin has created a work of unsurpassed vision, power, and imagination. A Clash of Kings transports us to a world of revelry and revenge, wizardry and warfare unlike any we have ever experienced.
A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for…

Escape From Zulaire

By Veronica Scott,

Book cover of Escape From Zulaire

Greta van der Rol Author Of Conspiracy

From the list on sci-fi romance with action and adventure in stars.

Who am I?

For me, writing space opera was obvious because it's what I like to read. There's so much scope for human and non-human societies out there, complete with the history of how they were created, and the inevitable cut-and-thrust of politics. If the book also has a love story– where do I pay my money? I do like the science in my science fiction to be convincing, though. My background as a computer programmer helps with that and I'm often grateful for my history degree when coming up with convincing empires and events. 

Greta's book list on sci-fi romance with action and adventure in stars

Why did Greta love this book?

This is another action-packed adventure where a soldier has to rescue a civilian from a planet about to erupt into civil war. What's nice about this one is that the hero needs rescuing as much as the heroine – but in a very different way. The romance is an integral part of the story and evolves in a natural way. I loved the way the stakes ratcheted up until impossible choices were on the table. 

By Veronica Scott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Escape From Zulaire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Andi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the house guest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot space marine Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.

Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of…

The Union

By T H Hernandez,

Book cover of The Union

Mary Ting Author Of ISAN

From the list on addictive stories that are impossible to put down.

Who am I?

I juggled being a mom with two kids and my career, as a teacher, so I had no time for myself. When I did get the chance to pick up a book, I craved stories that whisked me away from reality—books that were full of action and kept me turning the pages. Even though I enjoy other types of genres, my heart always goes back to dystopian books, which is why I eventually wrote my own series.

Mary's book list on addictive stories that are impossible to put down

Why did Mary love this book?

This book hooked me from the first page, and The Union has all the exciting elements I love in a book—fast-paced, danger, action, and romance.

I didn’t want to put the book down, so I stayed past my bedtime, especially since I wanted to know about the protagonist’s love interests. It was easy to get lost in the book. The author did an amazing job with the details of the characters and the world-building.

By T H Hernandez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Union as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After global warming and a second civil war devastated the former United States, two different societies rose from the ashes – the Union, a towering high-tech utopia, hugging the perimeter of the continent, and the devastated, untamed midsection known as the Ruins.Seventeen-year-old Evan Taylor has an easy, privileged life in the Union. What she doesn’t have is any idea what to do with the rest of her life. She only knows she wants to do something meaningful, to make a difference in the lives of others.When she’s kidnapped and taken into the Ruins as a pawn in a dispute involving…

A Thousand Sisters

By Lisa Shannon,

Book cover of A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman

Kathleen Stauffer Author Of Thou Shalt Not

From the list on women’s rights, roles, and limitations over time.

Who am I?

I grew up with five brothers in the 1950-60s and never felt that I could not do whatever they desired to do. Later, I developed a heart for women and children’s rights and a desire for real-life stories about authentic people and their struggles. As I watch the news, television, and observe my daughters and granddaughters, I am intrigued by women’s ever-evolving roles and the courage and perseverance it took for progress. Mary Meier, in Thou Shalt Not, did not  change the world; however, she did give her community much to think about when only the town blacksmith seemed to take an interest in her dire situation—which ultimately leads to a murder.

Kathleen's book list on women’s rights, roles, and limitations over time

Why did Kathleen love this book?

Inspired by an Oprah episode, Lisa Shannon starts to run for Congo Women—literally. Beginning with a 30-mile run and a deep desire to make a difference, it’s an inspiration as to women’s ever-changing roles, and how one person can start a movement that can impact many. In the Congo, she learns it is the worst place on earth for women to live. Instead of driving her away, her life evolves into something bigger than she could have imagined. My daughter, who had been to Africa herself many years ago, recommended this book. The stamina and courage it took to survive was beyond admiration; it was miraculous. I, at times, wonder how God’s divine plan will playout when I read of such circumstances. But when I read of Lisa’s calling, I am reminded that we are each called to be the hands and feet of Jesus—something bigger than who we are…

By Lisa Shannon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Thousand Sisters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lisa J. Shannon had a good life-a successful business, a fiance, a home, and security. Then, one day in 2005, an episode of Oprah changed all that. The show focused on women in Congo, the worst place on earth to be a woman. She was awakened to the atrocities there-millions dead, women raped and tortured daily, and children dying in shocking numbers. Shannon felt called to do something. And she did. A Thousand Sisters is her inspiring memoir. She raised money to sponsor Congolese women, beginning with one solo 30-mile run, and then founded a national organization, Run for Congo…

Seasons of War

By Daniel E. Sutherland,

Book cover of Seasons of War: The Ordeal of a Southern Community, 1861-1865

George C. Rable Author Of Conflict of Command: George McClellan, Abraham Lincoln, and the Politics of War

From the list on the American Civil War beyond the usual battles.

Who am I?

I have been researching and writing about the era of the American Civil War for something over half a century. My passion for the subject remains strong today, having just published my seventh book. Given the seemingly endless amounts of material from soldiers and civilians alike, I have enjoyed deeply researching neglected subjects and writing about them in a way that appeals to both historians and general readers. For me the Civil War never grows stale, there are always little-used sources to research and fresh ideas to consider. The American Civil is omnipresent in my life—not excluding weekends and holidays!   

George's book list on the American Civil War beyond the usual battles

Why did George love this book?

I began reading Seasons of War while in a hospital waiting for my wife to come out of surgery. To my great surprise, I became so engrossed in this beautifully written and deeply moving book that it took my mind off any anxiety I was feeling. 

First of all, Sutherland evokes a time—1861 to 1865—and a place—Culpeper County, Virginia—that turned out to be the great crossroads of the American Civil War. The two sides camped in, marched through, and fought over this strategic piece of real estate. This is the story of soldiers and civilians, of military campaigns, and the home front.  

The book is filled with memorable figures from Jeb Stuart to Ulysses S. Grant to long-suffering women and children. Sutherland’s prose is venturesome, at times earthy, and always compelling.

By Daniel E. Sutherland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Seasons of War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of Culpeper County, Virginia, is a unique one in Civil War history. Nestled in one of the South's most strategically important locations, it was occupied by the Northern army, recaptured by the Confederacy, and finally ceded to the North. Told largely through the diaries, papers, and correspondence of residents, common infantrymen, and such eminent personalities as Robert E. Lee, Walt Whitman, Ulysses S. Grant, Clara Barton, and Stonewall Jackson, all of whom spent time in Culpeper, this story wonderfully captures both the intimacy and grandeur of war.
Sutherland's account of the war is unlike any other. Both a…

American War

By Omar El Akkad,

Book cover of American War

Mal Warwick Author Of Hell on Earth: What we can learn from dystopian fiction

From the list on dystopian since “Brave New World” and “1984”.

Who am I?

When I was twelve years old, my picture appeared in my hometown newspaper. I was holding a huge stack of books from the library, a week’s reading. All science fiction. I’ve read voraciously for the past seventy years—though much more widely as an adult. I’ve also had a life founding several small companies and writing twenty books. But I’ve continued to read science fiction, and, increasingly, dystopian novels. Why? Because, as a history buff, I think about the big trends that shape our lives. I see clearly that climate change, breakthroughs in technology, and unstable politics threaten our children’s future. I want to understand how these trends might play out—for better or for worse.

Mal's book list on dystopian since “Brave New World” and “1984”

Why did Mal love this book?

The widening partisan divide between Red and Blue in the United States today gives me nightmares.

I read a lot of history, so I know how closely today’s divisions resemble those before the Civil War. Which is why Omar El Akkad’s American War resonates so deeply with me.

In 2074, four Deep South states secede over the passage of new legislation banning fossil fuels—and a Southerner assassinates the President.

The Red and Blue states are now at war again. And that’s my nightmare brought to life. 

By Omar El Akkad,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked American War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Best Book of the Year: The Guardian, The Observer, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and The Washington Post.

2074. America's future is Civil War. Sarat's reality is survival. They took her father, they took her home, they told her lies . . .

She didn't start this war, but she'll end it.

Omar El Akkad's powerful debut novel imagines a dystopian future: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague and one family caught deep in the middle. In American War, we're asked to consider what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and…


By Sir Walter Scott,

Book cover of Waverley

Beatrice de Graaf Author Of Fighting Terror After Napoleon: How Europe Became Secure After 1815

From the list on how Europe waged peace after Napoleon.

Who am I?

I was struck by the memoirs of Louisa Adams who travelled through Europe during the last Napoleonic battles. She was a young mother, and had to take her 7-year old son with her. Having children myself, I started wondering: how did people "on the ground" experience the last stages of the Napoleonic wars and the transition towards peace? I am a professor in the History of International Relations at Utrecht University. I write about terrorism and security in the 20th and 21st centuries. Yet, over the past decade, I felt the need to go further back in time, to that seminal period of the Age of Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, because that period truly saw the birth of a new security culture in Europe and beyond.

Beatrice's book list on how Europe waged peace after Napoleon

Why did Beatrice love this book?

To understand the trauma caused by the Napoleonic Wars, and the craving of people in France, Europe and elsewhere to return to the ‘normal pace of times’ as the Austrian Statesman Clemens von Metternich had it, Walter Scott’s ‘Waverley’ is the best vehicle to convey ourselves into the mindset of the contemporary Europeans. Europe had to curb the ‘evil passions’ and had to ‘come to its senses’. Just as Waverley’s young hero Edward does by letting go of his romantic love for the rebellious Flora and returning in the arms of his very English, quiet and harmonious fiancée, Rose. Scott’s Waverley came out in 1814, was a bestselling success in Britain and on the European continent. The protagonists of my book, Fighting terror, read it. And it still is a great read for us today, for rainy days.

By Sir Walter Scott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Waverley as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Life with his regiment in Scotland is dull until he visits his uncle's friends in the Highlands, where he meets Fergus McIvor and his sister Flora. Attracted by the wild freedom and romance of the Scottish clans, Edward finds himself in a difficult and dangerous position. His new friends are Jacobites, planning to overthrow King George and restore the Stuart monarchy. The Jacobites rise in rebellion. When Prince Charles leads an invasion of England, Edward's loyalties are hopelessly divided. Whose side will he take? And what fate awaits them all?